To start with, non- governmental organizations assist in the collection and documentation of data regarding violence against women in Pakistan. Due to their passionate and active involvement in the whole issue of violence against women, these groups have been able to collect and document most of the information that is associated with this subject. Aspects such as the regional preference of violence against women are well documented. It is clearly indicated that women in rural areas of Pakistan are the most vulnerable group when it comes to violence against women.
Due to reasons such as illiteracy and little exposure of the people in these regions, the males still respect the outdated behavior of male superiority and all that they do when the women are perceived to have made any mistake is to beat them up. Other practices that are still being carried out in the rural parts of Pakistan that are considered oppressive to women include the qasas, the hudood, karokari and early marriages of young girls to adult men (Kumar, 2005).
Other crucial details that can be obtained from the records kept by these organizations are the type of violence that is common in Pakistan, the various bodies that are involved in the fight against violence against women, the success levels of the efforts and the effects of violence against women in Pakistan. Aurat Publication and Information Service Foundation was registered in 1986 and it stores information on the welfare of women in Pakistan.
There is also the Applied Social Research organization that was established and registered in 1983 and Simorgh- Women’s Resource and Publication Centre that are rich sources of information on women’s affairs including violence against women in Pakistan. Apart from the above, non- governmental organizations in Pakistan play another vital role of direct provision of skills that assist the women in attaining economic independency. Their philosophy in this is that an economically empowered woman will not run to her male companion now and then for assistance thus reducing chances of being subjected to violence.
Hawwa Associates as a non-governmental organization has offered support to women involved in making handicrafts in Pakistan for a very long period (Asian Development Bank, n. d). The Adult Basic Education Society has been in existence since nineteen seventy two and has undertaken the training of girls in non- formal education as a major project. It has also carried out a multi-grade teaching training for Pakistani women in the Rawalpindi Division. This project ran from 1998 to 2001.
The Association for Creation of Employment trained women on how to secure training and get employment in the year 1997. They were also given training on how to handle businesses and access micro-credit facilities for their businesses (Association for the Development of Pakistan). Behbud Association is another non-governmental organization that is deeply involved in the tackling of violence against women in Pakistan through female empowerment. Established in nineteen seventy, Behbud Association has carried out major projects such as the skills training of 1971 and the education project of 1971.
All these projects were carried out in Karachi, the capital city of Pakistan and the main aim was to empower women with skills that are supposed to give them an economic edge. The Bunyad Literacy Community Council has also carried out major empowerment projects such as the women development project of 1998 and the empowerment for poverty alleviation project of 1999. Caritas was established in 1965 and registered in 1980. It opened handicraft centers for women in 1998 and developed an education program for working girls in the same year.
It‘s area of operation is around Punjab in Lahore. Also, there is the De Laas Gul Welfare Program that was established in 1976 but got formal registration in 1988. With vocational training as its thematic area; it has a running tailoring training project for women. This tailoring project commenced in 1997. TheAga Khan Development Network has also participated in women empowerment through micro-finance (Aga Khan Development Network, n. d). The economic empowerment of women in Pakistan has led to the reduction of gender based violence albeit not to the desired levels.
The provision of counseling services to victims of domestic violence in Pakistan has always been the concern of non-governmental organizations. Bedari was established in the year nineteen ninety two and deals mainly with the psychological health of women. Those caught up in the confusion of domestic violence always access counseling services from Bedari. It is obvious that victims of violence always end up suffering from trauma as well as other psychological disturbances that can only be dealt with through the provision of psychotherapy.
Theater services are offered in villages by this organization with its objective of psychological health as its major theme. Behbud Association also handles women’s health issues and was able to deal with distress management and rehabilitation of the victims of violence back in 1971 (Daiya, 2002). The role of educating the public and making it aware of the concerns of women in Pakistan is also taken up by non governmental organizations.
Issues such as domestic violence that leads to grave injuries of women and sometimes even death are always brought out to the public by non governmental organizations working in Pakistan. For reasons such as that of being perceived as being weak and ineffective by its own people and a watching world, the Pakistani government does not come out to inform the general public the state of violence against women in the country. And this is where the non-governmental organizations come in handy. Ways of understanding and combating violence against women are taught to the public and the state of abuse of women is disclosed.
The All Pakistan Women’s Association established in nineteen forty nine and registered in nineteen sixty five carries out the crucial role of educating the public on women’s issues. It handles the moral, social and economic concerns of Pakistani women and the one of the ways by which it does this is by educating the public and raising awareness on matters pertaining to violence against women. Violence against women takes many forms such as sexual violence, economic violence, verbal violence that comes in form of verbal abuses as well as the common physical violence that leads to bodily harm of the victim.
The All Pakistan Women’s Association avails this information to the public (Persona Blog, 2007, All Pakistan Women’s Association). Besides the above, non-governmental organizations in Pakistani protect the rights of women as a role in the whole issue of violence against women. They ensure that there is no discrimination of women in the country as far as the sharing of resources is concerned. The Mothers’ Trust and the National Research and Development Foundation are at the forefront in pushing forward the rights of women.
Vocational training aimed at giving women a leap so as to catch up with their male counterparts is done by the Mothers’ Trust while the National Research and Development Foundation has handled the rights of women through projects such as the Ulema and Women’s Rights project of 1998. These non governmental organizations that are involved in the push for the preservation of the rights of women also go a head to ensure that government and private enterprises that do not recognize the rights of women as human rights are exposed and pressurized to grant women equal rights like their male counterparts.
Thus informing women about their rights is not the only way through which these organizations push for the recognition of the rights of women. Through coordination and networking with other organizations and government agencies, they are able to ensure that females are given full protection by the law through enforcement of penalties that are meant for those who overstep the line and subject women and girls to violence of whatever form. Far from the above, non-governmental organizations in Pakistan perform the important role of assisting women in developing action plans for their activities.
Most of these organizations are international and therefore possess lots of skilled manpower. This skilled manpower always comes in handy when the women of Pakistan are supposed to come up with comprehensive ways of dealing with the issues that affect them. Therefore the design and development of work plans, action agenda and execution strategies is done by the trained members of these organizations who go a head to train the local women on how to do these things on their own (Women Empowerment Literacy and Development Organization).
The Sustainable Development Policy Institute that was established and registered in 1992 has assisted Pakistani women in coming up with action plans for a long time. The Bunyad Literacy Community Council has also undertaken training programs for women focusing on how to shape their agenda as they fight for their place in society in Pakistan (Sustainable Development Policy institute). Non-governmental organizations also play the role of lobbyists in the area of legislation. The driving motivation or interest is to have laws favoring women passed by the country’s legislative body which is the Pakistani parliament.
They also lobby so that laws that condemn women are dropped from the establishment. The reduction in the powers of the country’s backward traditions is as a result of the hard work done by non-governmental organizations through their lobbying. Their lobbying activities are normally done by writing to the legislators, buying spaces and airtime for advertisements in the country’s print and electronic media and holding demonstrations when there are signs of a possible negative legislation.
Leaving the above aside, non- governmental organizations in Pakistan play the role a catalyst in the encouragement of local women to participate in social processes that are geared towards the betterment of their lives. There is common understanding that there can be no meaningful change of any kind if the rural women are not involved in the whole activism process. The role of making the grassroots women active in matters pertaining to opposition to violence meted out on women is therefore the work of non-governmental organizations and community based organizations in Pakistan.
Through activities such as the theater programs as well as the training activities carried out by organizations such as the Mothers’ Trust, Pakistani women are mobilized and energized and this makes it easy for them to receive the targeted or intended information that is geared towards making them change their behavior so as to reduce chances of being caught up in the mess of gender based violence. This mobilization is also vital when it comes to areas where their numbers are needed to push for a particular agenda.
For example if a certain piece of legislation is supposed to be passed and its impact on the lives of women will be devastating, the huge numbers of mobilized women will come out and effectively shut down the legislation by putting pressure on the legislators. If the law is beneficial to women and it is threatened with being shot down, the huge numbers of mobilized women can also come out and pressure the law makers into enacting the law. This mobilization works to the best advantage of the women (Farman).
Another equally important role that is performed by non-governmental organizations in Pakistan as far as violence against women is concerned is that they act as safe havens for abused women. It is not surprising that some of the non governmental organizations operating in Pakistan run homes and centers where women and girls who are abused are given temporary hosing or accommodation till conditions that they are running away from are changed. In these homes or centers, the women and girls are provided with food, clothing, shelter as well as education. They are also provided with health facilities.
It is not uncommon to find schools and hospitals within these centers or homes meant for the rescued victims (Behbud Association, n. d). Also, the world has come to understand the position of women in Pakistan not through the efforts of the government of Pakistan but through the loud cries of the non governmental organizations that are handling women’s issues in Pakistan (NGO NET portal on women and children’s human rights, 2008). Since the government is always ashamed of the poor state of women’s rights, they shut down any attempt to tell the world what is going on inside Pakistan as far as women’s issues are concerned.
The non-governmental organizations, especially the international ones that are based in other countries such as Britain and the United States of America serve as informers to the rest of the world concerning the state of affairs of women in Pakistan. It is possible that without these non-governmental organizations within Pakistan, the world will be unable to know what the Pakistani woman is going through (Shaheen, 2002). In addition to the above, the non-governmental organizations serve as points of direct employment for victims of violence.
Most of the women and girls who are rescued from abusive relationships within the Pakistani society undergo a period of treatment so as to clear trauma. After this treatment, they are given some duties within these organizations so that they are able to earn a wage which they use to meet their needs. In addition to teaching them some bit of responsibility and earning them a living, these people assist the organizations in doing some of the duties that they are supposed to do without spending so much (Association of business professional and agricultural women Pakistan).
Moving away from the above, the non-governmental organizations in Pakistan also play the role of a vigorous campaigner as far as violence against women is concerned. Apart from the areas of education and creating awareness, the non-governmental organizations campaign with a lot of energy against this form of violence which reduces women to sub humans. They reach out to remote villages with clear messages on why men should treat their women and girls with dignity and respect as opposed to disrespect and abuse.
The greater part of the campaign against violence that is directed towards women is carried out by these organizations with the Pakistani government only playing a facilitating role. The messages that are given out through the print and electronic media, the conferences, workshops, and seminars on the protection of the rights of women and girls are sponsored by non governmental organizations working within the boundaries of Pakistan (Khan, 2008).
As a result of their duplicated roles and sometimes lack of transparency as well as political interference, the non-governmental organizations have also created confusion in Pakistan in the field of violence against women. This has led to the divergence from the key message and the failure to achieve the set goal of total freedom for the Pakistani woman. This is an unfortunate role that some of the non-governmental organizations working in Pakistan have found themselves playing (Raza & Ghauri, 2005, Chetia, 2007).
In conclusion, it is clear the non-governmental organizations in Pakistan play numerous roles as far violence against women is concerned. They act as sources of data on this crucial subject, equip abused women with skills as a way of empowering them, they offer counseling services for the victims of violence, they educate the public, and assist women in coming up with action plans. They also assist in legislation through lobbying; mobilize women at the grassroots, act as safe haven for victims of violence, act as the eyes of the world, offer direct employment to women and act as campaigners against this vice.
They also play the negative role of creators of confusion in the fight against violence against women due to political intervention, corruption and role duplication. References: Aga Khan Development Network, (n. d), AKDN in Pakistan. Retrieved on the 30th December, 2008 from: http://www. akdn. org/pakistan Asian Development Bank, (n. d): Gender and Development: Training Program for Women Artisans – HAWWA Associates. Retrieved on the 30th December, 2008 from: http://www. adb. org/gender/working/pak003. asp Association for the Development of Pakistan.
Retrieved on the 30th December, 2008 from: http://forums. developpakistan. org/viewtopic. php? p=1370&sid=3c1089e69fe80705b96ea4c05cd43ccc Association of business professional and agricultural women Pakistan: Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies. Retrieved on the 30th December, 2008 from: http://www. abpaw. cjb. net/ Behbud Association, (n. d); Karachi Family Health Centers. Retrieved on the 30th December, 2008 from: http://xiber. com/behbud/health. htm Chetia, N. , (2007); Pakistani Women in Politics. Retrieved on the 30th December, 2008 from: http://www.iknowpolitics. org/node/1900 Daiya, K. , (2002): “Honourable Resolutions”: Gendered Violence, Ethnicity, and the Nation.
Alternatives Journal: Global, Local, Political, Vol. 27, 2002 Khan, A. N. , (2008); Peace, Justice, Democracy: Country Report: Pakistan. Retrieved on the 30th December, 2008 from: http://groups. google. co. ke/group/peace-justice-democracy/browse_thread/thread/a33dc1bedb152c18? hl=en&ie=UTF-8&q=roles+of+NGOs+in+pakistan+on+violence+against+women#e020275ebdbf7d8c Kumar, M. , (2005); The Hidden Conflict: False Optimism and Silent Strategy in Kashmir.
Harvard International Review Journal, Vol. 26 NGO NET portal on women and children’s human rights, (2008). Retrieved on the 30th December, 2008 from: http://www. netbaz. org/ Persona Blog, (2007): Role of women rights organizations in Pakistan. Retrieved on the 30th December, 2008 from: http://spot. bz/blogs/fun2shhspotbz/2008/05/07/role-of-women-rights-organization-in-pakistan/ Raza, S. & Ghauri, I. , (2005); Feudalism, tribalism engendering bias Musharraf lambastes NGOs for ‘demonizing’ Pakistan.
Retrieved on the 30th December, 2008 from: http://forum. atimes. com/topic.asp? TOPIC_ID=3609 Shaheen, (2002); Insufficient Protection of Women: Amnesty Report on Pakistan. Retrieved on the 30th December, 2008 from: http://groups. google. co. ke/group/soc. culture. pakistan/browse_thread/thread/afdb81b2097e893a? hl=en&ie=UTF-8&q=women%27s+NGOs+in+pakistan#df815d5af7e911d1 Sustainable Development Policy institute: Know your rights. Retrieved on the 30th December, 2008 from: http://www. sdpi. org/know_your_rights/ngo. htm#allpak Women Empowerment Literacy and Development Organization. Retrieved on the 30th December, 2008 from: http://www. weldo. org/
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